In Physorg, a fascinating evolution in nanofabrication technology:
“One Chicago skyline is dazzling enough. Now imagine 15,000 of them.
A Northwestern University research team has done just that — drawing 15,000 identical skylines with tiny beams of light using an innovative nanofabrication technology called beam-pen lithography (BPL).
“Using beam-pen lithography, the researchers patterned 15,000 replicas of the Chicago skyline (featuring the Willis Tower and the John Hancock Center) simultaneously in about half an hour. Fifteen thousand tiny pens deposit the skylines over square centimeters of space.
“The current method allows researchers to make structures as small as 150 nanometers, but refinements of the pen architecture likely will increase resolution to below 100 nanometers. (Although not reported in the paper, the researchers have created an array of 11 million pens in an area only a few centimeters square.) ”
150 nanometers is pretty big compared to the current lithography techniques being used for microchips, but when I read this, chips were really the last thing that came to mind.
You see, recently, in a variety of different breakthrough, I’ve bee watching a new paradigm evolve in manufacturing. This new paradigm is “printing.” Over the last few years, each and every discrete component that we currently use to make electronic devices has gradually been made smaller and smaller, to the point that now almost every electronic component in an electronic circuit can be “printed.” We’ve developed graphene and CNT capacitors that can be printed, “coils” that can be printed, resistors, transistors, diodes, antennas, etc. all of which can be “printed. In fact, if you want to get a quick overview, check this out.
So, put that together with this new Physorg article on “Beam Pen Lithography” — a technique that will allow us to “print” massively parallel nanoscale structures, and what could it lead to?
To me, when I read this, I wasn’t thinking “microprocessors” because it’s too large scale. What I thought was probably even more mindtwisting. Because the first thing that popped into my head, was a motherboard, complete with powersupply, the size of a credit card… maybe smaller.
Should be interesting to see what develops, no?